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Justin Trudeau isolating after learning of COVID exposure

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was isolating at home Thursday after being exposed to COVID−19 and some provinces were planning to revise some of their public health restrictions.

The prime minister said in a tweet that he learned about the exposure the night before after he had been at a news conference on Parliament Hill with three top ministers.

Trudeau’s office said the exposure happened afterward and no staffer or minister in range of the prime minister was isolating.

Trudeau said the result of a rapid antigen test he took was negative, but he was following public health rules and isolating for five days. He said he would work from home during that stretch.

That means he will not be able to appear in person when the House of Commons returns Monday from its winter break.

Meanwhile, isolation rules are changing in Saskatchewan. The government said that starting Friday, close contacts of people who test positive will not be required to self−isolate.

The Saskatchewan Party government said it is revising its public health order as it shifts to treating the COVID−19 Omicron variant like other common respiratory viruses such as influenza.

All residents who get COVID−19, immunized or not, will need to self−isolate for five days. That eases a 10−day isolation requirement that had been in place for the unvaccinated.

Parents and caregivers will no longer be required to report positive cases to schools, but students are expected to stay home for their entire isolation period.

Ontario tweaked some of its reopening rules to allow snacks and drinks at cinemas, theatres, arenas and concerts when they reopen next week with capacity limits.

Initially, the plan was that food and beverages at those venues wouldn’t be allowed until Feb. 21.

Premier Doug Ford announced last week that with public health indicators starting to show signs of improvement, restrictions would be eased in phases starting Monday.

Indoor social gathering limits are to increase to 10 from five and restaurants will be able to reopen their dining rooms at half capacity.

Some non−urgent surgeries are to resume as well.

The province also released guidelines for who is eligible for the antiviral Paxlovid to treat COVID−19. Ontario received its first shipment last week. Health Minister Christine Elliott had said the drug would be used for adults at highest risk: the immunocompromised, unvaccinated people 60 and over, and unvaccinated Indigenous people 50 and over, or who have one or more risk factors.

In Quebec, officials reported a significant drop in the number of COVID−19 hospitalizations, but 56 new deaths were linked to the virus.

The Health Department said there were 3,153 patients in hospital and those in intensive care dropped to 235, which was 17 fewer than the day before.

The number of infected patients being admitted has dropped by almost one−quarter over the course of a week, said a report by a Quebec government health−care research institute.

The drop, based on data collected between Jan. 15 and 21, was observed in "all age groups and all regions," the report said.

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